If you try hard enough, you can make a list story out of anything. That makes it unfortunate when a list of real value comes along – like this list of the 10 mistakes people make when buying travel insurance.
These are real things; people make these mistakes every day. And furthermore, they’re serious; travelers lose time and money and more because they buy the wrong travel insurance, or make a foolish assumption and don’t buy travel insurance at all.
Before we stray too far into tl;dr territory, here are the 10 mistakes people make when they buy travel insurance. Do yourself a favor; don’t make them.
- You assume your credit card has comprehensive coverage. No credit card comes with comprehensive travel insurance. Most credit cards come with no travel protection whatsoever. The ones that do are aimed at travelers but mostly cover emergency assistance and purchases made with the card. Think of credit-card “travel insurance” as supplemental insurance, and not the main policy. But take advantage of it by all means.
- You don’t shop around. Travel insurance is not one-size-fits-all. There are many different coverage and payment options, and the same coverage can cost $100 over here and $200 over there. While laws prohibit resellers from messing with the price of travel insurance, there are enough price and coverage differences between carriers to warrant shopping around.
- You don’t look at the policy. Insurance policies are dull. They’re complicated and full of jargon and acronyms. But they also contain important information, like the circumstances under which your medical claims will be paid or your lost personal items replaced. So hold your nose and jump in; you may be surprised by what you find.
- You don’t read the reviews. Just like anything can be a list story, anything can be reviewed. Even people. Companies like to pooh-pooh reviews because they can get a little whacked-out, but you should have read enough reviews by now to know to filter out the extremes on either end and decide for yourself which ones are genuine and informed.
- You don’t look at the service hours. Most insurers offer worldwide travel assistance, but not all of them operate on a 24/7/365 basis. (Fortunately for you, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection does.) If you think that travel mishaps only happen between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, you’ve got another thing coming.
- You wait to buy until just before your trip. Okay, good on you that you remembered to buy travel insurance at all. But if you had bought insurance when you paid for your trip, in many cases you could have received additional benefits. In the case of ExactCare, the additional benefits are substantial: medical expenses covered as primary, coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, additional accidental-death-and-dismemberment coverage, and more.
- You don’t know how to submit claims, or how long it takes to get claims paid. You buy travel insurance hoping you never have to use it. However, when you have a claim and need insurance to pay out, do you know how to submit a claim so you can actually get paid? Many insurers make you fill out lengthy and confusing claim forms; BHTP’s pick-and-a-click claim filing makes the process much easier and faster, though it still pays to read through your policy and understand what’s covered.
- You assume pre-existing conditions are covered. They aren’t automatically covered with most policies. If you have a pre-existing medical condition and you want travel insurance, you have to look really hard at which travel insurers cover pre-existing conditions and what they consider to be pre-existing.
- You assume you can cancel for any reason. Cancel-for-any-reason coverage is usually an extra-cost option, and it’s that way at BHTP, too. If there’s any thought in your head that a cataclysm may come between you and your trip, read the policy documents from the carriers you’re considering and see what “cancel for any reason” means to them, and what you’ll be reimbursed if you play the cancel-for-any-reason card. (Hint: It’s usually less than 100 percent of what you paid.)
- You don’t save receipts for travel items. We get it: When it’s six months out from your trip to Europe and you’re buying a $150 portable audio recorder so you can document your trip, you’re probably not thinking, “I really need to save the receipt for this in case it gets stolen while I’m traveling.” Nobody thinks like that. But if you want maximum reimbursement for lost or stolen items you at least need to think in that general direction. Two hints: first, gather your expensive items before you pack and see if you can find paper receipts for them. If you can’t, try to track down online credit-card receipts, warranty certifications, or other proofs of purchase. Second, buy as many pre-trip items as you can with a travel credit card that provides replacement protection for lost/stolen items bought with the card. Like so many other things in the travel-protection game, it only makes sense.